Boston College Libraries Faculty Newsletter


FALL 2004

A Digital Institutional Repository for Boston College

eScholarship@BCThe Boston College Libraries have joined a growing community of academic libraries that are building open-access, web-accessible repositories designed to collect, organize, preserve, and provide easy access to the scholarly material produced by members of the Boston College community.


The new "institutional repository," eScholarship@BC, publishes both textual materials--preprints, postprints, working papers, conference proceedings, etc.-- and non-print material, such as streamed audio and video files, data sets, and multimedia presentations. eScholarship@BC also includes digital versions of Boston College theses and dissertations, plus several new electronic journals.




The concept of an "institutional repository" (IR) garnered widespread notice with the 2002 publication of a position paper by Raym Crow of the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC), an affiliate of the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), of which Boston College is a member. Crow makes a compelling case that Institutional Repositories, building on the principles and successes of existing disciplinary repositories such as RePEc (for economics) and arXiv (for physics), can help reform the system of scholarly communication by


  • broadening access to research,
  • reasserting the academy's control over scholarship by the academy,
  • reducing the monopoly power of commercial journals, and
  • bringing economic relief and heightened relevance to the institutions and libraries that support IRs.


Furthermore, Crow posits, Institutional Repositories "can serve as tangible indicators of a university's quality, thus increasing its visibility, prestige, and public value."


Library Support for Open Access


Another cornerstone of the eScholarship@BC initiative is the Boston College Libraries' support for the principle of open access to scholarly information. The Libraries are a signatory of the Budapest Open Access Initiative, which promotes the free availability of scholarly literature on the internet, "without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself." In addition to benefiting consumers of scholarly information, open access benefits scholars as well, increasing the visibility, influence, and potential benefit of their research. It helps redress global inequity of access to scholarship by dismantling cost barriers to research dissemination. And it returns research results more swiftly and readily to the public, who provide much of the funding for scholarly work.


All of the material that is archived in eScholarship@BC is available on an open-access basis. The repository also includes links to Boston College dissertations published and hosted by ProQuest, and the full text of these is restricted to Boston College faculty, students, and staff, although abstracts and 24-page previews are available to all users. The Libraries are pursuing options to ensure that future Boston College dissertations are available on an open-access basis.




The technology platform for eScholarship@BC is a publishing system called Digital Commons, developed by Berkeley Electronic Press (bepress) and marketed by ProQuest. Key features of Digital Commons include support for web-based author submissions, streamlined peer-review processes, flexible publication options, and full-text indexing of published textual materials. The system also conforms to the Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH), meaning that descriptive information about materials published in the repository are accessible to major search engines such as Google and Yahoo, ensuring maximum exposure.


Site Structure and Current Content


The eScholarship@BC site is organized around three major components: the main repository, organized by academic department, research center, or other campus unit, and the two associated e-publishing initiatives the libraries are sponsoring: e-journals, and theses and dissertations. In the main repository, current content includes selected working papers from the Economics Department and the Center for Retirement Research, newly digitized occasional papers by Boston College's first University Historian, Rev. Charles F. Donovan, S.J., and the occasional papers produced by the Church in the 21st Century project. The e-journals section includes a recently launched journal, Teaching Exceptional Children Plus, co-edited by Alec Peck of the Lynch School. Also included is the Journal of Technology, Learning and Assessment, edited by the Lynch School’s Mike Russell, which was migrated from a homegrown e-publishing system to the bepress platform.


Implementation Plan


eScholarship@BC currently is in limited production, with content from selected academic departments, research centers, and other campus units. The BC Libraries will work with these existing repository communities over the 2004/2005 academic year to identify and add additional content, streamline the submission and publication workflows, and begin to develop policies and procedures for a full campus rollout for the 2005/2006 academic year. An Advisory Board that will include faculty and administrators is being formed to set policies for the content, operation, and growth of eScholarship@BC.




For more information about the eScholarship@BC project, contact Bob Gerrity ( or Brendan Rapple (

Questions, comments? Contact the BC Libraries Newsletter Review Board.